Urbis amatorem Fuscum salvere iubemus
ruris amatores. hac in re scilicet una
multum dissimiles, at cetera paene gemelli
fraternis animis (quicquid negat alter, et alter)
adnuimus pariter, vetuli notique columbi.
Tu nidum servas; ego laudo ruris amoeni
rivos et musco circumlita saxa nemusque.
quid quaeris? vivo et regno, simul ista reliqui
quae vos ad caelum effertis rumore secundo,
utque sacerdotis fugitivus liba recuso;
pane egeo iam mellitis potiore placentis.
Vivere Naturae si convenienter oportet,
ponendaeque domo quaerenda est area primum,
novistine locum potiorem rure beato?
est ubi plus tepeant hiemes, ubi gratior aura
leniat et rabiem Canis et momenta Leonis,
cum semel accepit Solem furibundus acutum?
est ubi divellat somnos minus invida Cura?
deterius Libycis olet aut nitet herba lapillis?
purior in vicis aqua tendit rumpere plumbum,
quam quae per pronum trepidat cum murmure rivum?
nempe inter varias nutritur silva columnas,
laudaturque domus longos quae prospicit agros.
naturam expelles furca, tamen usque recurret,
et mala perrumpet furtim fastidia victrix.
Non, qui Sidonio contendere callidus ostro
nescit Aquinatem potantia vellera fucum,
certius accipiet damnum propiusve medullis
quam qui non poterit vero distinguere falsum.
quem res plus nimio delectavere secundae,
mutatae quatient. si quid mirabere, pones
invitus. fuge magna: licet sub paupere tecto
reges et regum vita praecurrere amicos.
Cervus equum pugna melior communibus herbis
pellebat, donec minor in certamine longo
imploravit opes hominis frenumque recepit;
sed postquam victor violens discessit ab hoste,
non equitem dorso, non frenum depulit ore.
sic, qui pauperiem veritus potiore metallis
libertate caret, dominum vehet improbus atque
serviet aeternum, quia parvo nesciet uti.
cui non conveniet sua res, ut calceus olim,
si pede maior erit, subvertet, si minor, uret.
Laetus sorte tua vives sapienter, Aristi,
nec me dimittes incastigatum, ubi plura
cogere quam satis est ac non cessare videbor.
imperat aut servit collecta pecunia cuique,
tortum digna sequi potius quam ducere funem.
Haec tibi dictabam post fanum putre Vacunae,
excepto quod non simul esses, cetera laetus.
To Fuscus, lover of the city, I, a lover of the
country, send greetings. In this one point, to
be sure, we differ much, but being in all else
much like twins with the hearts of
brothers--if one says "no," the other says "no"
too--we nod a common assent like a couple
of old familiar doves.
You keep the nest; I praise the lovely
country's brooks, its grove and moss-grown
rocks. In short: I live and reign, as soon as I
have left behind what you townsmen with
shouts of applause extol to the skies. Like the
priest's runaway slave, I loathe sweet wafers;
'tis bread I want, and now prefer to honeyed
If "to live agreeably to Nature" is our
duty, and first we must choose a site for
building our house, do you know any place to
be preferred to the blissful country? Is there
any where winters are milder, where a more
grateful breeze tempers the Dog-star's fury
and the Lion's onset, when once in frenzy he
has caught the sun's piercing shafts? Is there
any where envious Care less distracts our
slumber? Is the grass poorer in fragrance or
beauty than Libyan mosaics? Is the water
purer which in city-streets struggles to burst
its leaden pipes than that which dances and
purls adown the sloping brook? Why, amid
your varied columns you are nursing trees,
and you praise the mansion which looks out
on distant fields. You may drive out Nature
with a pitchfork, yet she will ever hurry back,
and, ere you know it, will burst through your
foolish contempt in triumph.
The man who has not the skill to match
with Sidonian purple the fleeces that drink up
Aquinum's dye, will not suffer surer loss or
one closer to his heart than he who shall fail
to distinguish false from true. One whom
Fortune's smiles have delighted overmuch,
will reel under the shock of change. If you set
your heart on aught, you will be loath to lay it
down. Flee grandeur: though humble be your
home, yet in life's race you may outstrip
kings and friends of kings.
The stag could best the horse in fighting
and used to drive him from their common
pasture, until the loser in the long contest
begged the help of man and took the bit. But
after that, in overweening triumph, he parted
form his foe, he did not dislodge the rider
form his back or the bit from his mouth. So
he who through fear of poverty forfeits
liberty, which is better than mines of wealth,
will in his avarice carry a master, and be a
slave for ever, not knowing how to live on
little. When a man's fortune will not fit him,
'tis as ofttimes with a shoe -- if too big for the
foot, it will trip him; if too small, will chafe.
You will live wisely, Aristius, if cheerful
in your lot, and you will not let me off
unrebuked, when I seem to be gathering
more than enough and never to rest. Money
stored up is for each his lord or his slave, but
ought to follow, not lead, the twisted rope.
These lines I am dictating to you behind
Vacuna's crumbling shrine, happy on all
counts save that you are not with me.